The steindachner's turtle is also colloquially called the Flat-shelled turtle or Dinner Plate turtle because of the shape of its carapace. This species is a relatively small turtle and can inhabit some of the harshest environments of any Australian turtle. Besides being encountered in permanent bodies of water, it is also found in areas that for a large part of a year are completely devoid of surface water. During the dry season the C.steindachneri has the unique ability to aestivate. (bury its self underground for up to 2-3 years by storing water in its bladder ).
Very little, if any, information is available on the captive maintenance and natural behaviour of this turtle. It seems that many authors have opted to offer advice that has clearly just been paralleled from the current information available on the Eastern snake-necked turtle (Cheldoina longicollis). I have found this to be completely inadequate and much of it incorrect. For example the method of determining the sexes in the Eastern snake-neck is very easy, with noticeable difference in plastron shape and tail lengths. When applying these known sexing techniques to the Steindachner's, it does not work or a least they are far from obvious. I have found no obvious differences in either tail length or plastron shape between the two sexes.
Another clear difference between Chelodina
longicollis and C.steindachneri is that the Steindachner's turtle are predominately nocturnal. During the day only occasionally basking is evident making me suspect that UV exposure is not as critical as in other species.
We believe that steindachner's turtles' breeding behaviour is triggered by rainfall and flash flooding. We have observed mating to coincide with increased water flow after rain and even in our Pilbara winter (17.5 degrees Celsius pond temperature). I have observed eggs laid as late as June.
Steindachner's turtles have a very placid nature and will settle into captivity very quickly and many become tame within a few days.
This is a turtle that does not emit any odour from its scent glands when disturbed. With its small maximum carapace size of approximately 230 mm and placid nature, will I believe one day become a very popular turtle.